or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, February 08, 2008


I was writing something else this morning and I used the word "evince" ("Didn't she evince any doubt at all?", or something like that), and then I had an unusual moment of doubt when I wondered if it was, in fact, the right word.

It was, happily.

Some people, apparently, confuse "evince" with "evoke". (Not me, but some people.) It's easy enough to do, I suppose. But if you know the etymologies, you'll never get them wrong.

"Evoke" suggests the word "vocal", and with good reason: they're brothers. "Evoke" is made of Latin "ex-", truncated to "e-" before the consonant "-v-", and "vocare", "to call". Therefore, it means "to call out" or "to call forth", and so "to evoke" means "to call to mind" or "to elicit".

"Evince", on the other hand, is from thats same "ex-" plus "vincere", "to defeat". This doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, because "evince" means "to make manifest" or "to demonstrate", and what has that to do with defeat?

A slight sideways leap, is all. Latin "evincere" meant literally "to conquer", but a later meaning was "to make a point", presumably in debate, where that point was used to defeat one's opponent. From there it's a short step to "to show something clearly".


Post a Comment

<< Home